Time flies. There is only five weeks left in the National Premier League 2 Womens season, and teams are still fighting for their spots in the top five. We have a few matches that may go a long way to decide those spots, so let’s jump into the preview.
Match of the Round: SD Raiders vs Sydney Olympic FC, Sunday 8 July, 3pm, Ernie Smith Reserve
Sydney Olympic FC face their toughest test left on their quest for an undefeated season, as they come to Ernie Smith Reserve, taking on a fearsome SD Raiders side for our Match of the Round.
Whilst the premiers were kept off the pitch due to weather in their top of the table clash, SD Raiders kept chugging, putting four past the Western Mariners, which put them only a pair of points behind the top two.
There is some issue coming into the weekend for the home side. Cassidy Chidgey, who has been their strike weapon this season is injured until the finals. Matt Constantini does have some good firepower left in Hannah-Rose Davey, Logan Garard and a calming presence of former W-League star Elizabeth O’Reilly to tackle Olympic head on.
They will need all those to take on a prolific Olympic FC side. Lieke De Bever has 26 goals in the season, chasing top-scorer Candice Phelan (31), the striker is ably assisted by Madelaine Costanzo and Danielle Calvi. Added to that is the defensive pairing that are Diedre Barham and Kate Halaska makes for an intriguing duel between them and the Raiders attack.
Last time these two did battle, Sydney Olympic FC took the spoils in a tense clash 2-1, where there was a red card, replacement goalies and plenty of action. So, if Sunday can produce similar, we’re in for a treat.
Inter Lions vs APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Sunday 8 July, 3pm, Concord Oval
APIA Leichhardt Tigers make the short trip across town in a battle of the big cats, trying to restart their form against a struggling Inter Lions side, at Concord Oval.
Both sides come into this contest in contrasting form. APIA Leichhardt has had a horror month with the bounce going against them. They are through the tough part of their schedule now, so Matteo Maiorana can prepare for the finals, getting his side healthy.
There was some joy in the form of Ash Palombi, now tallying 16 goals for this term, also the return of Filiz Urkanci giving APIA more options in the midfield. If APIA is to break out of this streak, they’ll need a performance like their second half against Nepean FC.
For Inter Lions, after their uptick in form they find themselves once again on the outside looking in. In their draw against St George FC, the Lions dominated both possession and chances, but an inspired effort from the Saints stopped them. Kirilee Cook has been their star this season and be the key to taming the Tigers.
Marconi Stallions vs St George FC, Sunday 8 July, 3pm, Marconi Stadium
Sixth place Marconi host St George FC, trying to wrest back their spot in the finals against one of the spoilers of the NPL2 Womens competition, at historic Marconi Stadium.
In a playoff for pole position in the finals chase, Marconi created enough chances to secure victory but were caught cold, losing 1-nil. For the Saints, they battled hard, taking another point as they start to pull away from the bottom.
The Saints are definitely coming fast to finish the season. Sitting eleventh, they have given the sides above them quite the challenge, led by the attacking duo of Grace Ha and Lara Nicholls. The Stallions will have to be on their game to avoid an upset.
Sunday comes down to Marconi having to recapture their form of earlier weeks, being more clinical with their movement and chances, and if so, Jess Beale and Demelza Howard should put the chances away against a tough Saints side.
Southern Branch FC vs Western NSW Mariners, Sunday 8 July, 3pm, South Nowra Football Complex
Fresh from the maiden victory, Southern Branch FC look to make it double delight as they welcome Western NSW Mariners on a rare road trip, this Sunday afternoon in Nowra.
Shaylee Meehan was the hero for the Branch, in their 2-1 success over UNSW FC, while Western NSW were swept aside by SD Raiders which ended their finals hopes for the season.
With two sides that are out of contention, there is a sense of mystery around this fixture. Can Southern Branch make it back-to-back victories, taking another scalp or will the Western NSW Mariners complete the season double against their hosts.
UNSW FC vs Gladesville Ravens, Sunday 8 July, 3pm, Valentine Sports Park #3
When you’re at the bottom, the only way to look is up – that is the case for UNSW FC, trying to dig themselves out against a gritty Gladesville Ravens side, at Valentine Sports Park.
The students slumped to their ninth defeat as they fell 2-1 to Southern Branch FC, as Gladesville once again provided some late drama, as they overcame Marconi Stallions, 1-nil in what was essentially a duel for fifth place.
Gladesville Ravens have steadied the ship after some wobbles, and they have the experience of Carlie Ikonomou in midfield and superb shot stopper Eri Arikawa to thank for that. Those two supplements the wonderful young talent across the forward line, highlighted by Emily Diaz that UNSW FC need to control.
For UNSW FC and Renato Jelen, they are chasing that feeling. There is a month or so left in the season and they will want to finish on a high, hopefully even taking a few scalps along the way, and no better scalp than Gladesville Ravens.
Nepean FC vs Central Coast Mariners, Sunday 8 July, 6:30pm, Cook Park (St Marys)
We round off the weekend of fixtures, with a delightful encounter between second place Central Coast Mariners against finals chasing Nepean FC under the Cook Park lights.
The Mariners took an unexpected break due to weather, whilst Nepean FC had to withstand a second half onslaught from APIA and some injuries, as they gripped onto a well-earned point in a 2-2 draw that keeps them in the hunt.
Nepean FC seem to have found their median in a season of swings and roundabouts. The effort has been there, but they’ll need another fine performance from Desiree Vassallo and her defense, especially if they might be missing both Annie Halls and Stefanie Trovato to injury.
Regarding the visitors, they just need to keep on track. Candice Phelan is tracking well for the top-scorer, with deputies Jordan Evans and Jade Mcatemney firing on all cylinders – so they are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
Source FNSW website -By Justin Davis